Nadia El Meallem talks to SBH about her experience running her fashion label from a pop-up shop.
Having worked in the fashion industry for over ten years and with a background in fashion design and illustration, creating my own label has been a natural and creative progression. British fashion brand Crown Love was born a year ago, coinciding with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The brand, which has quickly reached cult status in the industry, provides a fun and contemporary collection of graphic printed ethical t-shirts and vests. The brand takes inspiration from Britain’s history, combined with quirky printed graphics and iconic slogans.
As a start-up business and with the brand being just a year old, setting up a retail space was not part of the marketing strategy and was certainly not financially feasible. After reading about Pop-Up Britain’s great initiative, run via the Start-Up Britain campaign group, I thought I would apply for a retail space for Crown Love. Pop-Up Britain provides access to sought-after high street spaces so small businesses can try selling without the long-term financial commitment, whilst raising their brand profile and carrying out market research.
Luckily Crown Love was picked from over 800 applications and offered a space at The King’s Road Pop-Up for two weeks, alongside nine other start-up businesses. The retail space was provided with furniture, lighting, WiFi (so we could carry on with our daily business) and most of the amenities you would find in a retail space – not to mention a fantastic location on the prestigious King’s Road!
I visited the space before committing to it, and would strongly recommend this to anyone considering investing in a pop-up. Speak to the previous tenants, find out what the footfall is, and whether the area is targeted to your customer. If not, could you tweak your product offering or prices to the clientele? As a result of my research I also decided to introduce a range of custom-made Crown Love kaftans for our King’s Road customers, which did phenomenally well!
The run up to the opening is probably the hardest part of the journey. Making sure all your merchandise is ready and priced, and that display and props are organised. Investing time in a pop-up also meant taking time off other work commitments, both prior and during the shop opening. In this case, sharing the space with other tenants meant that we could cover each other when needed.
The pop-up was a great marketing and sales tool for Crown Love. Communicating with our customers for the first time on a one-to-one basis rather than just selling online was a great experience! It helped us find out what our most popular styles and prints were, and we loved listening to the customers’ opinions. We had some fantastic positive feedback and lots of happy customers leaving with our business cards! One of our highlights was chatting to Frankie from the Saturdays’ sister, who mentioned that Frankie loves our collection (we had previously sent Frankie t-shirts). On the same week we had a great fashion celebrity stylist (Jeff Mehmet) pop in. He loved the collection so much he borrowed some of our pieces and included Crown Love in a photoshoot with top model Valerie Van Der Graaf.
I would highly recommend to any new business interested in retail to trial with a pop-up first, perhaps collaborating with similar brands to keep costs and overheads down. Many may say that it’s a tough market out there, with the giant retailers leading the way. However, it is also an exciting time for entrepreneurs and new businesses, as British customers are curious and love discovering new brands and products. Go for it!
About Crown Love
The name Crown Love derives from a Regal presence and respect for love, fashion, art and life, inspired by the love story of Edward VIII who gave up his throne to marry the twice divorced American Wallis Simpson. The messaging is reflected in the prints and slogans. Crown Love transmits a feeling of idyllic young romance, with an ironic humorous twist. The feel of the collection is young, the image is geared towards edgy and carefree fashionistas with a certain bohemian lifestyle. Crown Love has already been snapped up by dedicated celebrity followers such as Ellie Goulding, Kimberly Walsh, Laura Whitmore, Little Mix, Amelia Lily, Rudimental and The Wanted.
Crown Love is available to buy online on Spoiled Brat and Crown Love website. Exclusive ethical collection available on http://ecoboutiqueshop.co.uk/. And if you fancy a natter, find Crown Love on Facebook and Twitter!